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 Two old bastards reassess the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Blood Sugar Sex Magik"

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LeeRain
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PostSubject: Two old bastards reassess the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Blood Sugar Sex Magik"   Sun Jan 09, 2011 1:23 pm



[SIZE="5"]Red Hot Chili Peppers—Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)[/SIZE]

For some reason I have this recurring theme on MB where I keep finding myself in conversations about the album Blood Sugar Sex Magik by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I don't know why I do this exactly since I've never been a fan of this album. But anyway during the most recent one of these discussions I started thinking, you know I haven't listened to this album in at least fifteen years and don't really know it all that well, maybe I should give it another chance, after all my tastes have changed a hell of a lot since it came out. So last night that's what I did, I downloaded the album and listened to it straight through, trying to keep an open mind about it. I'll save you the suspense and let you know right now that it didn't win me over but it was a fun experiment and I did find some gems along the way. Everything between the first and last paragraphs of this review is basically just my reactions as I listened to the album, it's not intended very seriously but hopefully it's somewhat entertaining. Here's what I wrote as I listened, cleaned up just a bit to be more readable:

The album starts off strong. "Power of Equality" is a pretty good song that could have worked well on Mother's Milk. I'm digging it. Unfortunately after that things immediately get very disappointing. The tempos slow way down, wanky guitar solos rear their ugly heads and Anthony Kiedis starts thinking he's a good singer a little too often. This pattern persists until "Suck My Kiss" which has more of a resemblance to their older material but frankly sounds like the kind of song they would've left on the cutting room floor on their previous albums. Next a godawful ballad in the form of "I Could Have Lied". Then we move on to "Mellowship in B Major" which isn't bad and has decent groove to it but would still only qualify as a middle-of-the-road song on one of their previous albums. I was happy to hear a little funk bleed it's way into "The Righteous and the Wicked" but let's face it, this song is filler.

Finally, after a long trip through a musical desert we arrive at a good song: "Give It Away". What's great about this song this it's actually fairly different from their older stuff but it's still a really good song. This is how you do it guys! This is how you change your sound without abandoning the things that made your music enjoyable in the first place. More of this please! And then, amazingly, they do deliver again. "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" sounds absolutely nothing like earlier Chili Peppers and is a good song for it. Maybe not the best thing they've ever done but I like the smoldering energy it has to it.

Ha-ha, but looks like I got my hopes up for nothing because here's "Under the Bridge", a cheesy-ass ballad that would fit in better on an Extreme album than a Chili Peppers album. "Naked in the Rain" should save the day though, right? I mean, on paper it has all the makings of a great Chili Peppers song: hardcore popping and slapping from Flea, driving beat, guitar that actually works with the groove instead of over it. Sadly it doesn't really work out because (a) Kiedis turns in one of the worst vocal performances of his career and (b) John Frusciante starts masturbating all over the song toward the end.

But Blood Sugar Sex Magik still has a few tricks up its sleeve and it employs them in rapid succession with the next three songs. The first of them, "Apache Rose Peacock", sounds kind of like a throwback to the Freaky Styley era. Not quite up to par with their best stuff but pretty fun and I dig the horns even though they're so inexplicably low in the mix. And, damn, "The Greeting Song" is really good too! Even the weak vocals and the guitar solo can't hold this one back. This is the level of energy I like to see these guys putting out. This trio of energetic songs is completed with "My Lovely Man", the weakest of the bunch. Not horrible, but not great either, it probably would've made a better B-side.

The album ends with two weirdish songs that seem a little bit tacked on. First is the long, boring "Sir Psycho Sexy". Yeah, it's funky with its juicy fart bass but it's a really dull kind of funky and Jesus how long can you draw out the ending of a song. The other song, the final song on the album, is a cover of a Robert Johnson song "They're Red Hot" and finds the band sounding almost like Squirrel Nut Zippers for a minute. It's really short but quite good so fortunately the album ends on an high note.

So like I said in my opening paragraph, Blood Sugar Sex Magik didn't exactly win me over but I'm glad I gave it a second chance after all these years. I discovered a couple songs I've been missing out on for one thing. Also, listening to it now I find that one thing I do appreciate about it is it's variety. There can be little doubt that at the time of it's release it was by far their most eclectic sounding album and even though it doesn't really work for me I appreciate the fact that they were trying to branch out with this one. I suppose it would be unrealistic to think they'd want or be able to keep going with the youthful style of their first four albums, it was pretty much inevitable that they'd either slow down or just break up.

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